THE FACTS: The Houston Rockets do not necessarily enjoy the idea of needing to outscore opponents to earn wins. But with the way their offense is rolling inside Toyota Center at the moment, they can live with their defensive woes.
Patrick Patterson scored 20 points to go with seven rebounds and three blocks, Jeremy Lin netted 19 points and handed out eight assists and Omer Asik recorded a double-double of 14 points and 12 boards, as the Rockets earned their fifth consecutive home victory by outlasting the Utah Jazz 124-116 on Saturday at Toyota Center. Four other Houston (8-8) players scored in double figures during a see-saw battle that included 13 ties and six lead changes.
Al Jefferson finished with 20 points and eight rebounds to pace Utah (9-9), which fell to 3-9 on the road this season. Gordon Hayward added 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting off the bench.
QUOTABLE: "We're playing a little bit of a dicey game. We're becoming a good offensive team, but there are going to be some nights when these balls don't go in, and we're going to have to learn to get a little tougher on defense and learn to win that way. ... Sometimes with a young team like us, they get pretty impressed with their offense, and maybe they don't compete as hard at the other end." -- Rockets acting coach Kelvin Sampson.
THE STAT: Utah will be happy to return to Salt Lake City after Saturday's game, because it needs practice time to tighten its defense. The Rockets became Utah's fourth opponent in its last five games to pour in at least 52 points in the paint. The Jazz, meanwhile, has allowed its last five opponents to shoot a combined 51.9 percent (196-for-378) overall.
TURNING POINT: After the Jazz surged to the lead behind a 37-point third period, the Rockets appeared to regain control of the contest by beginning the fourth quarter on a 20-9 run that gave them a 105-95 advantage with 7:26 remaining. Utah, however, countered with a 12-2 spurt to even the contest at 107. The back-and-forth affair continued until Houston steered the momentum in its favor with a thunderous James Harden dunk -- which came immediately after it forced the Jazz into a shot-clock violation -- that put the Rockets ahead 114-109 with 3:14 left to play.
QUOTABLE II: "Usually, [defense] is something that all of us from top to bottom take pride in ... and lately we haven't been getting stops. You can't look at different numbers and plays from the game and say, 'If we would've got this, or if we would've did that.' Top to bottom, we're not getting the job done on defense." -- Jazz guard Randy Foye.
HOT: The Rockets' offense has been firing on all cylinders over its last three games in front of the home crowd. Houston has averaged 124.0 points on 53.3 percent (136-for-255) shooting from the field, including 52.1 percent (38-for-73) shooting from 3-point range, during this stretch. All five Rockets starters have scored in double figures in each of Houston's last three home games, a feat the Rockets last accomplished in spring 2011.
NOT: After attempting 21 fewer free throws than Oklahoma City one night ago, the Jazz earned 15 fewer shots from the charity stripe than Houston. Utah, which dropped to 0-8 on the road this season when attempting fewer free throws than its counterpart, had attempted at least 30 free throws in the four games that preceded its trip to Oklahoma.
GOOD MOVE: The Rockets took advantage of a road weary Utah team that was playing on the second night of a back-to-back by pushing the ball up the floor at every opportunity to generate plenty of easy buckets. For most of the game, the Jazz appeared to be a step behind in transition when it did not operate efficiently on the offensive end.
BAD MOVE: Utah threw traps at Houston's backcourt to disrupt the Rockets' offensive rhythm early in the game, forcing seven turnovers in the first eight minutes. But it was not long before the overly aggressive approach by the Jazz defense began to backfire, as Asik, Patterson and Greg Smith were able to roll freely behind the defense for numerous layups. The trio combined to shoot 14-for-22 from inside the arc.
NOTABLE: DeMarre Carroll started in place of ailing forward Marvin Williams (concussion symptoms) for the second straight game. Coach Ty Corbin said before the game that no timetable has been set for Williams' return. Utah also played without reserve forward Derrick Favors (foot), who has an MRI scheduled for Sunday. ... Rockets forwards Chandler Parsons (shoulder) and Carlos Delfino (groin) returned to Houston's lineup Saturday. Parsons sat out of Wednesday's loss at Oklahoma City, while Delfino had missed the previous seven games. ... The Rockets began Saturday's contest a red-hot 18-for-25 (72.0 percent) from the field. Houston also finished the game on fire, scoring a season-high 39 points in the fourth quarter. ... Utah fell to 4-1 this season when Jefferson nets at least 20 points. ... The Jazz dropped to 6-1 this season when leading after three quarters, while Houston improved to 2-6 when trailing after three periods. ... Rockets guard Toney Douglas is a perfect 25-for-25 at the charity stripe this season. ... Houston is now 23-2 at home in the month of December since 2008. ... The Rockets snapped a three-game skid against the Jazz with the victory.
UP NEXT: For the Jazz: Monday vs. L.A. Clippers, Wednesday vs. Orlando, Friday vs. Toronto. For the Rockets: Tuesday vs. L.A. Lakers, Friday @ San Antonio, Saturday vs. Dallas.